Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 803

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Denies Exempt Status To Group Helping Undocumented Aliens Leave USA, by Peter J. Reilly:

I have been something of a skeptic of the narrative of the IRS Exempt Division targeting conservative organizations. As a matter of fact, one of my less than attentive commenters recently accused me of being, if you will excuse the expression, a Democrat. So when I see something, otherwise unremarked, that might support the narrative, I’m going to take notice. Such is Private Letter Ruling 201527043. The PLR is a denial of exempt status to an organization that I will call Ticket Back Home (TBH). (The public version of a private letter ruling does not include identifying information, so when I write about them I try to make up an appropriate name.)

TBH is concerned with illegal immigration, which is one of the Tea Party’s biggest issues. Being descended from some of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, famine refugees no less, I have a hard time connecting emotionally with the Tea Party animus toward the undocumented. Even if he is breaking the law, I just can’t get mad at somebody who is shaping up at the Home Depot to go hang drywall or do some landscaping so he can send money home to the Old Country. ...

I have been unable to penetrate the redaction on this ruling, so I have no candidates for the particular organization that was denied exempt status by this ruling. Reading between the lines of the ruling, it does seem to be coming from a place of right-wing populism, that I am not really that sympathetic with. Nonetheless, I think the IRS case for denying exempt status is on the weak side.

One thing that I have noted about the exempt organization controversy is that a lot of noise is made about all the hoops that organizations have to jump through to get exempt status, but there is little attention paid when there is an outright denial. This ruling, which has received no other coverage I could find is another example of that phenomenon.

I can’t rule out that there is something altogether unsavory about this group that would cause me to sympathize with IRS in turning them down, but the rationale in the ruling does not really stand up.

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"Lessening the burdens of government" is a charitable activity, the basis for permitting an enormous deduction related to keeping a baseball team in Kansas City (approved by 3 PLRs). Helping the govt transport illegals is a better case than that, so partisan politics is a fair explanation for this denial.

Posted by: Yo Gabba Gabba | Jul 22, 2015 9:19:34 AM

The letters sent to this rejected applicant prove there are still smart people, good writers, at the IRS. A person who knew what he or she was doing took the time to explain WHY this ridiculous organization could not qualify. And they wrote well, in anticipation of potential litigation, it seems. (In case another anti-immigration group tries to sue over the denial as a PR move, IRS has good defense.)

"Undocumented aliens are not a charitable class per se. And while a person’s inability to return to his home country because of a lack of resources may be the result of poverty or distress, your actual operations show that you are not concerned with identifying and assisting the poor and distressed among the undocumented aliens, but only with identifying those most likely to return home and least likely to seek to reenter the United States illegally.
“Furthermore, even if the undocumented aliens you assist were poor and distressed, you have failed to show that your activities actually relieve their poverty or distress. Your primary activity is simply to provide undocumented aliens with transportation out of the United States. You do not appear to be concerned with their welfare during their stay in the United States or with whether their situation upon return to their home country would be an improvement on their situation in the United States. You do not provide transition or employment assistance. You do not offer assistance in helping undocumented aliens reenter the United States legally."

Posted by: Reader | Jul 22, 2015 7:54:43 AM

So... there is Tea Party animus toward the undocumented. Who knew.

What really happened is that you read a lot of calumnies on the net and believed them. You have seen it happen before, and now it has happened to you. If you had talked to the very large number of Tea Party members that I have talked to, you would know that their issues are small government, federal government, and low taxes. It is not a group, it is a movement. Lots of people, some of them nice, have put Tea Party in the name of their group, and it is a measure of the size of the movement that you can find someone to say just about anything. In an important sense, the Tea Party was here before the founding of the country, and it is not leaving.

More likely that from your comfortable place in front of the screen, you read a lot of

Posted by: Oliver Shank | Jul 21, 2015 4:53:33 PM

It isn't just conservative groups being targeted. The author assumes this from was on the right because of how they were treated by the IRS but the reality is that any group that holds views Democrats don't like are being targeted.

This is why Obama's IRS went after Jewish groups. The Democrat party, under Obama's leadership, has veered sharply into antisemitism. For evidence, look at the in your face racism and antisemitism of the Democrats BDS movement that is sweeping the nation in Progressive strongholds. Disgusting.

Posted by: wodun | Jul 21, 2015 10:50:15 AM

Mr. AMT buff: Yes.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jul 21, 2015 10:44:49 AM

Is the mystery organization itself permitted to disclose the private letter ruling?

Posted by: AMT buff | Jul 21, 2015 9:49:37 AM